The budget is the financial representation of the scope of work of a project. Accurate budgets show thoughtful proposal preparation; a budget that is inconsistent with the work of the project or that obviously under- or over-estimates costs may disqualify a proposal during sponsor review. An accurate budget aids in the management of the project and documentation of expenses after the project has been awarded.
Sponsor requirements for budget submissions vary widely. Some require line item detail while others, like the NIH Modular Budget or some Fellowship competitions, don’t require any detail at all. However, departments are advised to submit detail budgets at the time of submission so that school and university reviewers can ensure that the budget is compliant with Harvard policies and avoid the need for rebudgeting after an award has been made.
The Excel budget template contains commonly used expense types and automatically calculates fringe and overhead rates. Internal budgets should be uploaded into GMAS with all new proposals.
Budget Justification Guidelines
This guidance document for preparing a budget justification is set up in NSF format and can be adapted to other sponsor requirements. You will find additional language for budget justification under each cost category in this section. Most sponsors require a budget narrative of some kind regardless of the budget format. A budget justification should describe the effort commitments and roles of personnel, explain how costs for non-personnel items were estimated, and establish how each item will benefit the project.